Chainsaw Log Cutting Guide

Chainsaw Log Cutting Guide

At one point or another the thought may have entered your mind that you could turn the freshly felled trees you have just cut, into your own Lumber. Maybe you already have some dead trees leftover on your farm and wish to turn them into firewood or fencing poles. In this brief, we are going to guide you through how to cut logs and turn them into whatever you like, whether that’s firewood, fuel or fencing poles.

The great thing about a chainsaw is that a chainsaw really is one of the most versatile tools that you can ever own. Before you even think of cutting a fallen tree though it’s important to learn how to do it safely. Chainsaws are the best alternative to machetes and axes when turning large logs into firewood or whatever you want. However, figuring out where to start and where to stop in case you want to make firewood for the next winter or to turn logs into fencing poles to keep animals away from your property can be overwhelming.

Recently, we enlisted a chainsaw expert to seek answers to most of your questions. We’ll show you what we learned including things concerning the whole process of cutting logs into whatever you want. However, we first of all have to talk about safety. It is at the core of every operation and therefore you should be sure you are safe before you embark on any chainsaw cutting task.

The Kickback Zone of a Chainsaw

Whatever the case, you need to avoid cutting logs in the kickback zone. It can be very risky because the saw will actually kickback towards you. To reduce the chances of an accident caused by kickback, cut with the chain on the bottom of the bar. For this reason, the saw pulls slightly and so it is easy to control.

There are some chainsaw operators that cut from the underside of a branch. However, this requires you to cut with the top of the bar. Although this is a little unnerving at first, it’s okay as long as you take all the other precautions into account especially to prevent saw jams happening.

For your safety, there’s one point at the bar that you should avoid entirely, the kickback zone. It is the top half of the bar’s tip. This is the most sensitive part of the bar that can cause injuries if appropriate measures aren’t taken into account. If this area comes into contact with anything while the chainsaw is working, it is likely to kickback. This is the reason why the majority of chainsaw manufacturers have equipped their chainsaws with a chain break. The Chain brake is designed to stop the chain in case there’s any chainsaw kickback.

How to Eliminate Accidents Caused by Chainsaw Chain Kickback

The most common accidents can be eliminated if proper precautions are observed. One of the ways to increase your cutting safety is to always wrap the thumb of your left hand around the front handle whenever you are cutting. This will ensure that you have full control in case a chainsaw kickback occurs.

We must also state that you are supposed to carry the chain with your left hand holding the front handle. What this means is that there’s no way the engine will accelerate and start the chain even if you trip or stumble. Whenever you are moving from one place to the other even if it is from one log to another, you are required to remove your right hand from the back handle.

The worst mistake that most chainsaw users make is to operate a chainsaw without the right PPE. The fact is that an accident can occur at any time. Since you don’t know when an accident can occur, Ensure that you have the right Personal Protective Equipment on. Buy safety gear and wear it before you start any cutting task. It is advisable to wear special chainsaw chaps that will often stop a moving chain and eventually save you from the agony of nursing an injury or worse. Additionally, gas powered chainsaws can produce a lot of noise. For this reason, you are should wear ear protection to avoid ear damage caused by prolonged exposure to high decibel noise.

Adjusting the Chain Tension

Get into the habit of checking the chain tension before you start. It’s important, in fact you are supposed to check the chain tension after every two hours of cutting so why not make extra sure and check it each time. The main reason for this is that loose chains can fly off the bar and cause accidents. They may also damage the bar and prevent them from fitting back correctly and finally a loose chain won’t allow you to cut anything correctly.

For this reason, you should be checking your chain tension regularly. If possible, take due care about it and check more often. The good news is that some of the machines today come with a tool-less chain tensioning system. You just have to get the cover out and tighten the chain. However, there are those that come with more complicated systems of adjusting the chain tension. In this case, you are required to loosen the bar nuts and lift the bar while tightening adjusting screw until the chain gets to the required tension.

Get a Feel of Your Machine

Now that you have the correct safety gear and took note of things that you aren’t supposed to do, the next thing is to fill the saw with gas (if that’s the type of chainsaw you are using) which is premixed with two cycle oil. After that, fill the oil tank with bar and chain oil. Check out the video below to help get yourself up to speed on using your chainsaw to cut up a tree trunk.


To start the machine, take it to another clear place and engage the chain brake. Turn on the ignition switch and eventually pull out the choke. You are only required to pull out the choke in case the machine is being started from cold. After that, put the machine on level ground and put the toe of your right boot into the back handle loop. Later, hold the top handle with the left hand. The next step is to pull the start handle to fire the engine.

Before you start cutting, get a feel for how your machine responds to the throttle. If you find out that the machine is responding the right way, then take time to configure it yourself or bring it to a small engine repair shop for tuning. Only cut when you are in a comfortable well-balanced position. Ensure that your feet are about a shoulder width apart. The other thing is that you should never stand directly behind the machine, stand to one side of it.

If you are using a rechargeable chainsaw the process is made a whole lot easier and all that is required is a charged battery, some chain oil, a sharp chain and the correct chain tension and you are good to go with just the push of a button.

Design a Strategy

Now that you are ready to start cutting, you should come up with a strategy of cutting the logs. You should first of all start by cutting off the braches from the tree in question. After that, start cutting at the trunk, working your way towards the top.

You should stand back and size up the situation even before you start the machine. Think about what you want, whether it’s firewood, poles, timber or any other type of wood. The other thing worth knowing is that you should be aware of what will happen after you cut the branches that trapped between the fallen trees. You need to be aware that there is a strong possibility that the branches will be under pressure and sometimes, cutting them can make the log fall or roll and there is also the risk of pinching happening on your chain and chain bar. The message is to be aware and be careful.

You should always imagine the worst case scenario and be ready for it. You should be thinking of what will happen next if I do this and thereafter prepare accordingly. Spare some time to clear a path behind you and to the sides for a quick retreat in the event something doesn’t work the way it was planned. Start by cutting the trees at the lower part of the log and work towards the top of it.

Work With a Partner

It goes without saying that you should use a partner in this case. The fact is that you may not be able to handle all the work alone. The other issue is that in case of an accident, you can have someone to help you. If you become trapped or injured, someone will always be there to respond swiftly. You should also know that you will need someone to lift the logs to a reasonable height so that you can cut the log. One basic thing is that you cannot cut the log while it is lying on the ground. There are several risks of cutting while the log is lying on the ground. The machine can cut into a stone or any other hard item that can rescind the chain and the log has a tendency to close in on itself pinching the chain and causing a jam.

Additional Cutting Tools

Besides having a chainsaw for cutting up the logs, there are several other tools that you will need and ones that may come in handy. At this point in time, we are going to discuss some of the most common firewood cutting tools that can help make things easier for you.

Splitting Axe

A Splitting axe is ideal in this case. It splits medium to large sized logs. This tool is usually designed for efficiency. It is supposed to give you more on one-strike splits. It also has a great design and perfected balance and weight distribution that increases swing speed to multiply the splitting power. It also has strong handle that helps the user to move the axe comfortably. The other thing that you should note is that this tool has an advanced bevel convex blade geometry which helps to remove the axe from wood easily.

Manual Log Splinter

You also need this tool. It is a piece of machinery that is designed for splitting firewood from hardwood or softwood logs. This tool can be used remotely. It can be moved to the site where the task is being carried out.


This tool is very important for the campfire. It also has some additional uses which makes it a very important tool when you are cutting trees and logs into firewood. It is specifically important for cutting limbs from downed trees or even chopping small logs into poles or firewood. However, it isn’t ideal for trying to split larger logs.

Splitting Maul

This one looks just like an axe. However it is necessary to help push the sharp edge into the log. In real life, it is half a sledge hammer and half axe tool combined.


Do you know a process of turning small branches into firewood which is called botaning? This is where the work of a knife comes in. It can be used to turn small branches into firewood. You also need a knife for firewood prep. Sometimes you may need a knife for cutting small branches instead.

Lump Hammer

You may also need this tool for larger logs. It is necessary for pounding the wedge into the log.

Sawbuck or a Log Stand

This is another very important equipment that you are supposed to get. It is specifically used for holding wood so that it can be cut into pieces. Although you can buy this equipment, there are some people out there that can make them from the materials they have lying around their workshop or home.  

What Wood is best for the Fire?

If you want to turn the log into firewood, then there are several choices. Some of the different types of firewood available include:


This is the best choice in case you are looking for a type of firewood that will help you keep a steady burning fire. If you are someone who depends entirely on wood heat, then this is the best type of wood.



This is a softwood and it will ignite faster. However, it produces a lot of smoke that can result into blockage of your chimney.


This is another very efficient wood that you can turn into firewood. However, you also should note that it is very Smokey and cause trouble especially when you are using it inside your house.


Cherry wood is another very efficient alternative. However, it needs to be seasoned to reach its optimal functionality.

What Are the Types of Wood to Avoid?

There are some types of wood that you should avoid entirely. This is determined by what you are seeking to do with the log. If you want timber, then there are some trees that can make the best out of whatever your need may be. On the other hand, if you want firewood, there are some trees that don’t burn well. The intended use of wood is what determines which wood you will select going forward. In terms of firewood avoid unseasoned wood. The wood you cut needs to be stacked and let dry before it will be good for the fire. We will describe the best types of fire wood to select in another article. But for now;

Thanks Folks and Happy Cutting!